Crack the Seal

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Open your new games. For years many of us have been around game communities and have seen or read about people that will buy two copies of a game, keeping one sealed and opening the other one. Why? I need one copy of a game, to open and play. Having something sealed on the shelf might look nice, but its not serving much of a purpose. Most of the people that try this speculation pick the wrong games to keep sealed, or did until they were burned by their theory or made too little profit to make it worth keeping something factory sealed for a decade.

This entire phenomenon comes down to expectations. We are all aware of how Star Wars toys became a hot collectible. Why was the market so top heavy for sealed toys though? An overwhelming majority of those toys were opened, sealed ones were the exception to this rule. Even today you can run across loose Star Wars toys at flea markets and thrift stores all the time. Sealed ones from the original lines of the toys? Not so much. This type of expectation came with the early days of video games as well. The further back in gaming history you go the harder it is to find sealed games, even boxed games can be difficult for many systems.

Nobody expects this sealed anymore, but they’re still around anyway.

Even before this current explosion of video game collecting there was speculation about the future of a video game’s price. The early days of eBay and online marketing were a wild time that lead many to irresponsible purchasing decisions and speculation. I can remember quite a few games in that time that were highly inflated and have cooled off considerably, while others have blown up as a result of a better connected world and more information on what’s actually hard to find. Specifically, I recall the days when the original Bandai printing of Dragonball GT Final Bout was the hottest title for the first Playstation. It was uncommon at best, but the series was running and at the height of its popularity. A reprint came later and the property cooled off, but you better believe that there were speculators trying to flip the Atari reprints as soon as they came out.

I can honestly remember seeing on some fan forums in the PS2 era people who were going to buy a second copy of such expensive games as Suikoden IV, Jak and Daxter, Okami, and the Collector’s Edition of Final Fantasy XII to ‘hold onto’ and ‘see what happens in the future’. Gaming is a hobby to many people, and the idea of money and a percieved second hand value to the game has fired many people up and turned people who have no business with a video game into a seller, since they know there’s money to be had somewhere. The titles that are really worth flipping if you buy cheap are few and far between, and the only real profit comes from the bulk of many libraries and how many people are digging for these titles at the moment. If I want a long term investment I’ll stick with my financial adviser and diversify my stock portfolio, I’ll probably even invest in some gold and silver as the prices for them cool down even further.

A real man’s investment.

It just takes one time for somebody to buy two copies of Rule of Rose and rake in the profits for the decisions to go all downhill from there. The expectation of newer games on the market is that they should be sealed! The buyer’s market for newer games actually makes the purchasing of used games a poor decision since there are many cases where you can find better deals online for brand new, sealed games than local brick and mortar stores have for used games. One recent example of this for me is seeing Lightning Returns for $50 at a used store, when its currently $30 at Target for a brand new Target exclusive edition, and $20 for a regular release on Amazon! As always, do your research as a buyer and you will not get hosed by a deal like that because you were not paying attention to online deals or even shopping around your own town.

What really made me start thinking about this topic was the release of Gaijinworks’ Class of Heroes 2G for PS3, and my own recent research and purchase for the original Class of Heroes 2 on PSP. I missed out on the original calling for Class of Heroes 2 to give Vic and company my money, but I made sure to send some out for a copy of 2G. While I was watching copies of Class of Heroes 2 the secondhand market was almost entirely sealed copies. I just had to wait for one that was the right price. I did see a few opened copies pop up online, but they did not offer enough in savings to make buying them worthwhile compared to a sealed copy. I’m talking an average of $10 in the difference between an opened copy and a sealed copy.

This game is supposed to be rare! Even after years on the market the price is only that much of a difference. Why is that average difference so little? Its the expectation of the sellers, not the buyers in this case. The sellers have heard for years that a sealed copy is worth more than something that is opened, and to be fair this is correct. The main difference is in profit potential. Copies of Class of Heroes 2G were flipped early on for more than double the original investment, the original Class of Heroes 2 has calmed down almost to the point where a sealed copy is as much as you would have given to Gaijinworks. Once the hype dies down so does the profit. The result? A glut of sealed games with the odd actually opened copy. Given the supply and option the buyer will choose the pristine, unopened, and barely touched copy for only a few dollars more than one that’s opened. I myself did this, and just waited for the best price and one that I could haggle on.

Case replacement fodder and nothing more.

As this article will release its likely that the hot speculative items will continue to be the brand new secondhand sealed copies of the limited edition of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. What is an item that sold at $50 for those lucky enough to get a pre-order is being listed at two to four times its launch price. And you know there are some people out there paying it. With this release, the Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL, and all the undersold Amiibos I’m sure many Nintendo fans are praying that the company starts to manufacture more than enough copies of everything to keep the shelves stocked longer than a day, maybe even a couple weeks, to chase the speculators away. But they will never truly go away anymore, just find the newest commodity to latch onto. Ten years ago it was Atlus limited editions that were heavily speculated, this is the decade for Nintendo, niche companies, and limited Kickstarter physical copies.

I opened Class of Heroes 2 and 2G as soon as I got them. I love the feeling of unwrapping a brand new game. The day that I am writing this I have a stack of three brand new, crisp, factory sealed PS3 games courtesy of Amazon sales sitting next to me, and I can’t wait to crack the seal, open them up, smell the new game smell, and flip through the manuals. I can’t experience that with a sealed game. I want to make this next point very clear, I am not trying to advocate the opening of a 40 year old, hard to find Atari game or anything related to the idea. Those have more in common with the original run of Star Wars toys than the gaming market of today. In the new market there is absolutely no reason to not open your game to play it. As much as I like looking at my shelf of games they all have one thing in common, they’re open and I can play the game hidden within, read its manual, and enjoy all the art and promotions they came with.

How else would I know what variants I got without opening my games up?


PSP Farewell Part 2 of 2


Last week I took a look at PSP re-releases and remakes. This week its all about the original or new games made specifically to show off the PSP’s power and place in the handheld world. But first I did forget to mention a rather great re-release that slipped my mind despite it being one of my primary hunting targets.

Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together

This is a remake of the Playstation port of the original Super Famicom release. Let us Cling Together was originally developed by Quest before they were bought out by Square. The director of the game, Yasumi Matsuno, has quite the history. Almost right after finishing this game he left Quest and joined Square before the buyout, going on to direct Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, FF Tactics Advance, and FFXII before going freelance and joining modern RPG powerhouse Level-5.

Now onto what everybody is really waiting for, the new stuff!

The early life of the PSP was virtually a wasteland of uninteresting games or botched PS2 ports. But there was one bright spot that helped to lift opinions and outlook about the system while many were ready to write the system off as just another one that Nintendo crushed beneath their mighty thumb.


Sure it is a spinoff of the incredible Jak & Daxter trilogy that is not made by the original development team. But this is a worthy title to anybody’s PSP collection, its a wonderful little 3D platformer with cartoony graphics. Really that’s what Sony’s 2nd party developers did best during this time. It is quite fun and actually has a decent camera, unlike many other platformers for the system. Odd that one of the first managed to do it correctly.

Monster Hunter Freedom, Freedom Unite, Freedom 2, and Portable 3rd

This is it. For the Japanese gamers this is the series that made the PSP a must own system. The first Monster Hunter came out on the PS2, and Capcom decided to continue the series in handheld form and managed to find a yen river that flows directly into their headquarters. Now the gameplay is stylized yet has some essence of realism. You can find meat on monsters, eating it raw heals some health, but cooking it heals more! And cooking is based on timing and not automatic. Crafting is quite deep in the series as well, but to describe it all would take the rest of this post!

Freedom and Freedom Unite can be found in the US quite easily, but if you absolutely crave more Monster Hunter and need Portable 3rd for PSP you will be forced to import it from Japan. A PS3 HD version does exist as well, again only for Japan; but that’s not going to stop an importer from playing it on their region free US console!

Space Invaders Extreme

A true blast from the past! This is a re-imagining of the classic arcade series for its 30th anniversary in 2008. It is multiplatform so go ahead and grab a DS copy if you wish but in my opinion, the PSP version is superior. Mostly because the UMD is capable of holding a higher quality of sound and the PSP screen is of a higher quality, showcasing wonderful and colorful background graphics. The game is quite a trip, and a sequel was released in 2009 as a DS exclusive. If you are an old school Taito fan then you should rejoice with these releases, the first is one of the best games Taito has released in years. The sequel was developed by Project Just and not Taito, so obviously they just weren’t cut out to make a game for the PSP.

Metal Gear Portable Ops, Peace Walker, and AC!D series

Metal Gear received a lot of love on the PSP, including 2 sequels to fan favorite Snake Eater. The first games to release for the system were the two AC!D games. They are much different than anything fans would have expected for the series to go down, Collectible Card Games. Yes, the virtual CCG has infected the Metal Gear series. If you’ve played any CCG before you can get the hang of the AC!D games quite easily.

Now Portable Ops and Peace Walker star our old pal Naked Snake (now with the Big Boss codename) and are set in the rain forests of South and Central America respectively. Portable Ops is a hybrid of the classic MGS stealth/action gameplay, but incorporates squad based elements and strategic maneuvering. The player directly controls one squadmate, so instead of just dishing out orders like Ghost Recon, you play the role of consciousness hopping god.

Thankfully this was taken out in Peace Walker in lieu of true co-op gameplay. That’s right, now you have mission based progression that you can play with somebody online! Unfortunately neither Portable Ops nor Peace Walker live up to the greatness of Snake Eater, but they make great additions to your PSP library! If you’re more into home consoles then Peace Walker is available on the Metal Gear HD Collection along with Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater, and benefits from the control given with a 2nd analog stick.

This is all we have time for this week. I may revisit this in the future or start up another feature as each console is replaced with a successor. If you want me to sift through the shovelware in the DS library or talk more about the PSP, or any other system that I own, then feel free to comment with suggestions!

PSP Farewell Part 1 of 2

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With the recent release of Sony’s new Vita there are many out there who are ditching their PSP and the many games and UMDs available for the once lukewarm selling system. So while many are saying farewell to their PSP and personal library I am saying ‘Hello!’ to the world of Sony handhelds. Why is that? I only recently picked up a PSP and a handful of cheap games the same night, only about a month ago. So here are some reasons why another collector should be saying ‘Hello’ to this system as well!

First point: Timing

There is no better time to set your sights on a new system than shortly after it is deemed obsolete and the general public has a shiny new toy that is trending to talk about. Because everybody is offloading their PSP and games in lieu of the Vita’s ability to download some games then it means the market is being flooded with fresh, new titles that will hopefully soon make it to everybody’s favorite haunts. This means prices are dropping for all but the most coveted and sought after titles. From here on out, we will be talking about some of the big marks for a collector of physical media and why the PSP should not be ignored.

Second Point: Imports

The PSP is region free, just like its brothers the PS3 and Vita, so there are many reasons an importer will find this system friendly. I am just entering the realm of importing, and I am also a fan of the Suikoden series, so the system already offers me at least one personal title to pursue as I fill in the rest of the small holes in my own personal collection of that series.

Genso Suikoden I & II

Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki

There are a few other reasons for the import friendly RPG fan to be excited about the PSP library. For example a remake of Breath of Fire III was released in Japan and the EU, so it is perfectly friendly for any BoF fan that only speaks English to go after the EU version of the game. Other options include Sega’s Shining Hearts, Valkyria Chronicles III, Falcom’s Zwei!, Namco’s Tales of Eternia and the quirky Nendoroid Generation. If you know what a Nendoroid is then you should have an idea of what to expect. There are also quite a few options for the fan of the good old Shoot ’em Up, with Taito’s Dariusburst topping my list of desires. A remake of R-Type is available from Japan and Europe’s PSN to add to the list,

A vast majority of import options are based on the most popular anime in the Land of the Rising Sun, and as such can be just what you expect, or maybe even worse than that.

Valkyria Chronicles 3


Third Point: Remakes/Re-releases

Right here is where the PSP library will shine for any fan of Japanese developed, console RPGs, and where I will have a hard time even starting the list!

Atlus starts with an A so I might as well mention that Personas 1-2 were completely remade, graphics and sound were upgraded to make use of the PSP’s superior capabilities. Persona 2: Innocent Sin was also released for the very first time in English on this system! I’m proud to say the collector’s edition of that game was one of the first ones I grabbed. Eternal Punishment is currently in the works from Atlus, no word yet on if it will come across the Pacific. Both 1 and Innocent Sin had soundtrack’s released in a collector’s edition for North America. Persona 3 was also ported, however it is more recent and the upgrades were given to the combat system to make it function like Persona 4’s, but story was cut out that was in the PS2’s FES edition. Where’s Persona 4 you ask? Well its being re-released on the Vita, so this trend looks like it will continue, at least from Atlus. Outside of Persona the great Atlus also re-released the cult-favorite Game Boy Advance title Riviera: The Promised Land.

Capcom has the aforementioned Breath of Fire III re-release to check out if you wish to import a copy from Europe.

Falcom remade and re-released Ys 1 and 2 in a collection called Ys I and II Chronicles. I can say with experience that these are some fun games to play if you just want to run around and grind mindlessly. Button free combat, Peter Molyneux must be completely jealous that Falcom did that in 1987! The collector’s edition came with a soundtrack and this is one series that certainly deserves it! More Falcom re-releases include entries in The Legend of Heroes series. I personally have not grabbed any of these yet, but Trails in the Sky has been tempting me.

Game Arts also threw their hat into the RPG remake ring by releasing Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. If you have been wanting to experience the first Lunar but do not want to shell out a pretty penny for either the Sega CD or PS1 release then I would go for this one!

And last but not least (maybe for their newer games) for the RPG side Square Enix. As you can expect I am going to be mentioning a series that has Final and/or Fantasy in its title. Sure enough Square re-released Final Fantasy 1, 2, and 4! Their release of 4 for PSP also includes the various spin offs that have been increasing in number for the past few years.

Before I lose all of your attention I will mention some re-released arcade games that came to the system. SNK’s Metal Slug Anthology piles 7 classic run and gun games onto a single UMD. And Konami’s Gradius Collection crams 5 classic shmups onto one UMD as well. Natsume brought Harvest Moon to the system with a re-release of the PS1 classic Back to Nature. On this system it is known as Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl.

Next Week I will return with a focus on titles built specifically for the PSP. No remakes, imports, or remade imports in Part 2!

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